A packed week ahead: ELI5, Christmas Party and Workshop Clearing

December is nearly upon us and with it comes a raft of Farset events! What better way to christen our new and improved Event Space?

Kicking off the month, we have our regular casual talk series, Explain it Like I’m 5, where some great speakers break down a concept they have experience with and present it in seven minutes. We’ve had everything from baking to plasma physics in the past and we welcome talks from the floor on the night.

Join us on Thursday 1st December at 1800 for some truly entertaining talks, plus a Japanese buffet and plenty of time to chat with other attendees. Read more here.

Next up, we have the annual Farset Christmas Party in the form of a pot-luck dinner. Culinary hacks are encouraged and the event is open to all. Bring something edible and bring a friend, but please don’t bring an edible friend – that’d be against the law and not much fun for the friend. Party poppers, retro console gaming and festive treats await!

The Christmas party kicks off at 1900 on Friday 2nd December and you can get more details here.  Do let us know you’re coming via Facebook.

Finally, the management team have been toiling hard (as always!) to improve the Labs and, having been working extensively on sprucing up the Event Space, we’re now turning our attention to the Workshop. As discussed on Slack, the Workshop Clearout will be taking place this weekend (Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th December). Any help is appreciated.

Member equipment that is in member project boxes will, of course, remain untouched, as will any clearly labelled equipment as per the member handbook. If you have left any kit in a position that may have, shall we say, not quite complied with the rules, please give us a shout on info@farsetlabs.org.uk to make sure we know about it and that it’s not disposed of. Any queries, as always, can also be directed to that address.

We’ll be relocating a few pieces of equipment to more suitable homes within the workshop and this should make using the space a lot easier for all. Naturally, this means that the workshop can’t be used for any member projects during the clear-out and we apologise for the disruption.

If you want to see what’s planned (particularly disposal of equipment believed to be communal and unwanted), check out the barebones plan available here.

(The rather lovely featured image is by Kevin Dooley.)


You learn something new everyday, usually without trying. Maybe you find a shortcut to a friend’s house, maybe a trick on the computer or maybe you realise that Thermos of tea in the car was a really bad idea. But what if you could get an overview of weird and wonderful topics from folks who know the ins and outs of them really well?

“Explain Like I’m 5” is our collaborative speaker series, where local developers, technologists, entrepreneurs, artists, performers, scientists, and business people take a concept that may be highly specific to their area of expertise or work, and break it down to a lay audience from right across the STEAM spectrum with a minimal expectation of prior knowledge.

This event is sponsored by the very lovely folks from BCS Belfast Branch!

The Audience:

The target audience is anyone and everyone who loves learning and expanding their horizons. No topic is off limits as long as you are confident that it can be delivered to a lay audience within the constraints of the format.

The event is in two parts; an invited and a free-for-all section, separated by an intermission with drinks and a selection of Japanese food (just to shake things up!). There will be ample time to have a chat with all the other good folks who come down.

The Rules:

The rules for both groups are the same:

  • Speakers have a maximum of 7 minutes to speak on the subject of their choice, followed by a short open Q&A.
  • No Slides! The use of Non-Projected Visual Aids is heavily encouraged, and projectors may be considered for live demonstrations. The blackboard is your friend.
  • Before the event starts and during the break, presenters (invited or unplanned) are asked to put a 3-5 word synopsis of their topic on the blackboard along with their name.
  • The Compère will decide what order presentations will be done, so be nice to him/her!

If you’ve got something you’d like to share to the audience, email events@farsetlabs.org.uk to discuss it with the subject line “ELI5”. Submissions are also more than welcome on the night!

(Featured image from XKCD)

Election 2016 (v1.0) Ballot

Our nomination period is up and voting will open shortly (emails will be sent to all current members eligible to vote) and in the meantime, you can peruse your options below, consisting of the nominee name and pitch:

1. Colin Mitchell

My involvement with Farset Labs started when it was a dark glint in Bolster’s evil eye. I say ‘involvement’ – it was really just supportive conversations, but once established this quickly turned into an obligation to join, and a membership fee has been ripped bodily from my strained bank account ever since.

However, it’s not all bad…

Some of the things I love about Farset Labs:

  • The slight tendency towards anarchy
  • The attempts at real democracy
  • The diversity of people + their abilities
  • The sense of community and random connections
  • The stuff all over the place
  • All the code ‘n shit with the young people ‘n all

I love the sense of ‘if it ain’t broke, break it’ – (though not Robin Prices’s lighting-up ping-pong table, nor Matt Hazley’s beer-making kit, ‘cos the phrase ‘don’t break stuff that makes beer’ should need no explanation)

Currently I’m CTO/co-founder of Sixty-5 Technologies – Farset’s co-working space was where we spent a lot of last year. Bolster was instrumental in John Arrell & I getting together, David Kane helped with initial specs, Robin Price worked on our Gateway box, Mal Duffin seriously improved our UI, Art Knipe straightened up our API – all invaluable & there’s nowhere else in NI where that could happen.

As well as techie stuff I’ve done sales & marketing, management & director stuff – so I can bring wide experience with an anarchic twist.

Right now I’m doing a lot of coding (at 57, I know, God help us) – most of the Sixty-5 Android code & some of the Ruby on Rails cloud stuff is mine. Also devops stuff with servers and all that kind of thing. I love all the hands-on stuff.

So, for Farset, as well as sharing the organisational burden with the others, there are a bunch of things that interest me:

Connectivity between the diverse membership and the wider community – both social and industrial. There’s all sorts of interesting stuff that Farset members could be part of, if it interests them. Let’s find more of these things.

Learning – there are so many different ways to get engaged in tech & to learn without going through the established education routes (with their gatekeepers). Some of that Farset is already doing well. I love the idea of someone coming through Farset from no tech knowledge to paid work. Or just for fun.

Farset has a lot of potential to act as an incubator for early stage startups – there’s already a bunch of that happening right now (Sixty-5 is but one example)

Diversity – I love diversity & inclusion. We can extend what we already have.

I love people poking at projects – how can we do more of this?

I love the idea that in years to come, world-changing stuff or people might have had their roots in Farset. That would be something.

For a tiny bit more on me, visit


2. RON


ReOpen Nominations

Ron does nothing, and means we open up nominations again.

The Directors assert that this election, odd as it is, satisfy the Director Appointment Rules as set up in the Operations Manual and ratified by Town Hall Consent from March 2014.

Elections 2015

Update: Due to several factors outside of our control, the directors have decided to postpone this series of elections until later in the year. Thanks!

Farset Labs is run by a dedicated team of volunteers, starting with the original three directors back in late 2011/early 2012. Since then, we aim to try and keep the number of directors at five, so, with the recent departure of Ben Bland for warmer shores (quite literally), it’s time to launch our 2015 Director Elections. Nominations will open from the timestamp of this post until midnight on Wednesday 18th February.

Nominees must:


  • Nominate themselves.
  • Have been a member for at least three months (not necessarily in one block).
  • Email david@farsetlabs.org.uk (and CC admin@farsetlabs.org.uk) with
    • Their name.
    • Their ‘pitch’ which is 1000 characters maximum. (Suitability for role, experience, intentions etc.)
  • Be aware that, if successful in the elections, they must not have any convictions that would prevent them from being the Director of a limited company (i.e. convictions under the Fraud Act 2006) or any convictions regarding sexual offences against minors (i.e. convictions under the Sexual Offences Act 2003).
  • Be aware that they have legal obligations as a Director of Farset Labs, including their legal liabilities to HMRC etc.
  • Be aware that, if successful, they will be required to provide details including their legal name, sex, date of birth, addresses lived in the last three years, signature and National Insurance Number for the purposes of registration with Companies House.

Voting will open when the nominee profiles (consisting of the nominee’s name and pitch) are posted publicly on Thursday 19th February and will close at midday on Friday 27th February.

Information on how to vote and the procedures surrounding voting, including the case of a draw, will be posted along with the nominee profiles. The results, barring any special circumstances, will be announced as soon as possible after voting closes, likely the following day.

Any questions can be directed to either david@farsetlabs.org.uk or info@farsetlabs.org.uk. You may also find it useful to review the records of previous elections, available on this blog.

Good luck!

Election 2014 Ballot

Our nomination period is up and voting will open shortly (emails will be sent to all current members eligible to vote) and in the meantime, you can peruse your options below, consisting of the nominee name and pitch:

1. Conor Robinson


Well here we are, two and a half years on. In the years since formation, Farset has grown.

We have grown in numbers, in experience, and in maturity.

I’ve been a paying member of Farset since day one, and was a member of QUESTS (The Queen’s Society that worked together to set Farset up) even before that. You can see me in the old photos from the days of our scouting out buildings to rent!

Alongside Farset and QUESTS, I founded the QUB Amateur Radio & Electronics Society, through which I teach amateur radio courses with the Radio Society of Great Britain.

Having just completed an industrial placement year with Andor Technology, I’ve gained invaluable real-life experience in industry.

I feel that the director’s role in Farset is to facilitate the members’ needs. To provide the resources required for members to achieve what they want to achieve.

As such, I intend to keep Farset involved in education schemes and programmes, so that we can have a tangible and measurable impact on our membership and our community. I would like to see Farset expand in the area of electronic hardware design, and would intend to promote that area to the director group, and to the membership at large.

Let’s keep growing.


Conor is an active contributor to the IRL Farset Community, as well as the Discourse, where you can ask him any questions either privately via his profile or in the open by summoning him from the ether with “@Conor”.

2. RON


ReOpen Nominations


Ron does nothing, and means we open up nominations again and lose an active director when Ben leaves next month.

The Directors assert that this election, odd as it is, satisfy the Director Appointment Rules as set up in the Operations Manual and ratified by Town Hall Consent from March this year.